“Meet me where the sky touches the sea.” –Jennifer Donnelly
Show off your new swimsuit on Santorini, don your splashiest beach duds on Mykonos, and lace up your walking shoes on Crete as you hike the Samaria gorge (yep, we did that too).
The diverse Greek Isles offer something for every type of traveler.
Greece has the longest coastline in Europe and is the southernmost country in Europe. The mainland has rugged mountains, forests, and lakes, but the country is well known for the thousands of islands dotting the blue Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west.
The biggest Greek island is Crete. That is where our dream vacation began. We started by visiting the beautiful port town of Chania (pronounced Hanya).
Being an exemplary city to visit on Crete, Chania shows its best side in its old harbor, famous for its 16th-century Venetian lighthouse and many seaside taverns. This particular part of Chania is modestly packed with architectural remnants of long-lost mighty empires like the Venetians, Egyptians, and Ottomans. Perfect for a long walk along the coastline during the daytime. If you prefer a walk in the evening, you’ll have an even more romantic experience at sundown as the harbor in Chania, gets beautifully colored by the sunlight.
Admiring the clear blue water and watching the fish swim by.
Charming alley ways throughout the Harbour town of Chania.
Strolling along the cobblestone walkway
Let’s talk about FOOD! So fresh, simple, tasty and healthy too.
Greeks live long lives and it is thought that their varied diet of olives, olive oil, lamb, fish, squid, chickpeas, and lots of fruits and vegetables keep them healthy. Olive trees have been cultivated in Greece for over 6,000 years. Every village has its own olive groves.
The islands of Ikaria and Crete both have many active, very elderly residents; Crete was the island studied for the impact of the "Mediterranean Diet" which some believe is one of the healthiest in the world.
One thing we had to get use to was dining late. It’s usually hot in the afternoon & early evening hours, it’s customary to dine al fresco after 8pm. It was a very enjoyable experience to dine outdoors in the cool of the evening. The town comes alive, all the taverns are hopping, people are shopping and the entertainers and music fill the streets.
Feta cheese, marinated kalamata olives and other fresh vegetables with tasty herbs and drizzled with olive oil.
Lunch Break, I enjoyed a delicious gyro and salad in Chania, Crete.
The people of Crete finish each meal with a round of Raki. Raki is made from grapes not destined for wine making. Frequenlty homemade and very strong (similar to moonshine). Cretans of all ages, enjoy this potent drink. We saw many people selling this in recycled milk jugs from street side stands.
(this child had a lemonade type drink, no Raki for him)
On this trip, we visited a slice of paradise called Elafonissi. In 2014, it was named one of the world's top 25 beaches on TripAdvisor. That's when this beach on the southwest coast of Crete became a major tourist destination and has been going strong ever since.
Today, this beautiful sandy beach is the target destination for everyone from young backpackers and avid sun worshippers to families with buckets and spades. After arriving at Elafonissi Beach, we fell in love! The path down to the beach opens up to the central area with a gorgeous lagoon filled with the clearest turquoise water. Can you believe to rent an umbrella & 2 lounge chairs was the equivalent of $10 for the whole day! Elafonissi has become famous for it’s pink (yes, pink!) sand beaches. It’s caused by the coral (that over time) being broken down by Mother Nature.
If you go very early in the season you can enjoy the remarkable pink sands, the wildflowers, and strange rock formations in relative peace. Rock coves and pockets of sandy beach are occasionally popular with nude bathers. You’ve been forewarned, we saw a few.
This is considered one of the best beaches in Crete, located in the Chania region on the East Coast. It is especially appreciated because it combines: small pebble coves, small sand dunes, turquoise water, a perfect orientation for sunset and if offers wind and waves appreciated by windsurfers. I don’t think it was the most beautiful, but it is great combination of different factors.
The sand is gold, the water is turquoise and it is surrounded by many large dark rocks which are great for climbing for a better view.
The BEST surprise is they sell large fresh baked sugar donuts on the beach! Just Wow! We may have had a few. Never thought about donuts at the beach?!
Is it Instagram worthy? LOL
Can’t even justify this with words. Spectacular comes to mind.
We are the teeny tiny people at the bottom of the massive gorge.
We spent a week exploring these areas of Crete and beyond! Everything from the delicious food, lively music and gorgeous beaches, will remain with me as one of the best travel experiences of my life!
I will leave you with one last picture. It’s a clue of what I’d love to share with you in my next blog post.
Can you guess what I’ll talk about in my next post?
Ready to start planning your trip Greece? Let’s get started!